The Journey

In August 2019, the Romania Sonora team officially started the project. We covered about 1,800 km and explored especially the center, north and east of Romania. These are the locations we have investigated:

Bucharest – Danube Delta – Târgu Mureș – Gornești – Turda saline – Gherla – Cluj-Napoca – Izvoru Crișului – Săpânța – Sighetu Marmației – Cornești – Desești – Breb – Budești – Nicolae’s Mill – Bârsana – Poienile Izei – Ieud – Sucevița – Voroneț Monastery – Saschiz – Viscri

We searched for strong specific expressions, descriptors of the local identity in each of these locations. The choice of locations for documentation and production of works took into account their sound potential and their cultural value. We looked for both out of the ordinary manifestations of the soundscape: orthodox churches services; workshops, industrial spaces; fairs; rituals and traditions (such as the pre-wedding ritual we attended in Maramureș, Poienile Izei) and for the sounds of everyday life, such as ambient sounds, people’s stories. Below we briefly describe and depict experiences from several locations we have visited.

Danube Delta (UNESCO Heritage)

We captured sounds from Murighiol, Letea, Sfântul Gheorghe, Uzlina, Isac Lake, Isăcel Lake, Crișan, Sulina and Magearu. The Danube Delta is a natural labyrinth of shapes, colors and materials playing a continuous symphony. We talked to people in Letea, who told us local stories and we investigated the desertlike surroundings. A particular experience was encountering the wild horses in Letea.

Gherla

A major landmark in Gherla was the Armenian-Catholic Cathedral. Ioan Esztegar, the president of the Union of Armenians in Romania, told us its history and explained to us how the Cathedral is anchored in the citylife nowadays. We also visited the History Museum in Gherla and the house of the wood sculptor Ioan Galgoczy, who talked to us about his sculptures and how he makes them.

Cluj and surroundings

We attended the Hungarian Cultural Days, and at Izvoru Crisului we talked to artisans and collected materials

Săpânţa

We investigated the Merry Cemetery longside Irina, a 70-year-old lady born in Săpânța, who read for us the verses painted on crosses and told us her personal history and that of other people in Săpânța. We have also met the master of the Merry Cemetery, Dumitru Pop- Tincu, the successor of Stan Ioan Pătraș, who showed us his workshop and techniques.

Sighetu Marmației

We “captured” sounds from the Memorial to the Victims of Communism and the Resistance. Visiting the Memorial in search for a sound imprint we came across an earth-like silence which inspired our Sound Sculpture for this location.

Wooden churches in Maramureș (UNESCO Heritage)

We explored the wooden churches of Maramureș – such as the Church of St. Nicholas (the oldest painted wooden church) in Budești, the wooden churches in Desești, Bârsana, Ieud and Poienile Izei, where we also witnessed a ritual that precedes the marriage – the separation of the future groom from the parents.

Painted churches in Bucovina (UNESCO Heritage)

We attended the service of Sucevita Monastery (nunnery) and the church of Sucevita (men’s choir) and we visited Voroneț and Agapia.

Saxon villages (UNESCO Heritage)

We explored Saschiz and Viscri and talked to local artisans (such as potters).